Philadelphia Eagles: Is there really a true cornerback competition?

Avonte Maddox (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Avonte Maddox (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

This doesn’t feel like a real cornerback battle at Philadelphia Eagles camp.

It’s called the numbers game. Every year, at Philadelphia Eagles camp, there’s a unit or two that has one more capable guy than roster restrictions will allow them to carry. Just look at what Greg Ward’s situation. We always knew he could play. Philly just always seemed to have six guys they favored a little more.

This year, heading into the final days of camp and, eventually, the regular season, it appears that Ward is assured of a roster spot. That brings us to the other side of the ball, the guys that will sharpen their skills versus a very talented group of Eagles wide receivers.

Philly’s current training camp roster carries seven cornerbacks and another three prospects listed as defensive backs. Even still, it appears that this team already knows who they want on the 53-man roster, and it seems like they’ve had their hearts set on who they’ve wanted for a very long time.

If we’re making an educated guess, this should be easy if you’re a Philadelphia Eagles fan.

Darius Slay is the guy on this cornerback unit. We all know that. We’ve also known that Nickell Robey-Coleman figures to start in the slot. All Summer, we’ve talked about Avonte Maddox possibly starting opposite Slay, and as of August 19th, he’s been on the field with the starting defense every day since the ‘Birds’ put the pads on in practice for the first time.

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That leaves three other familiar faces. Sidney Jones is in the final year of his rookie deal, as is Rasul Douglas, and both figure to compete for backup roles. Cre’Von LeBlanc signed a one-year extension before Philly put him on their IR (injured reserve) last season. How’s that for a vote of confidence? He figures to back up Robey-Coleman in the slot.

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It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out, on a roster that figures to carry six corners on the final version, we’ve already named enough candidates. So what about those other guys? Grayland Arnold, one of those three aforementioned defensive backs has shown us all a lot since his arrival, but it appears that, at best, he, Michael Jacquet, and Elijah Riley are on collision courses with the practice squad, if they wind up there.

Craig James, the other of Philly’s corners that we haven’t mentioned, feels like his name is the seventh on a list of seven, so what are we saying here? It’s actually quite simple actually. The Eagles, just like every other team use training camp to help them build a roster, but minus Slay and Robey-Coleman, this unit looks exactly like it did last season.

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With that being said, two things immediately come to mind when you analyze things. One, the question needs to be asked about whether Slay and ‘NRC’ are so good that they elevate this unit from the mediocrity that we saw a season ago. Secondly, were we in error to call this so-called cornerback battle a ‘competition’ in the first place? From the outside looking in, it feels like this unit has been set since March.